The Headmaster’s Stepson

Recent events take my memories back to my high-school, specifically to the guy who turned out to be a butt-sore for the entire school. His raison d’être being the stepson of our newly appointed headmaster — a charlatan who sold a dummy to the public to get rid of the well qualified but quiet gent who occupied the headmaster’s office for the past ten years.

Our school, by the southern periphery of the school district, was not without its share of issues — the usual fund-shortages, some bickering teachers, some unruly students to name just a few of those. However, the school always delivered the best results year after year. We outdid the big schools in the north in practically everything, from basic hygiene factors like having toilets for students to educating the most number of girls to delivering the best academic results — to the point of the school’s trophy cabinet running out of space.

Unlike the big schools in the north, our school also had a vibrant culture of political activism. After all, politics has always been a part of our staple diet as I argue here. Elections to the students’ union were pretty involved affairs — not for us, this big northern schools’ notion of “appointing” some rich landlord’s kids as the school union chairperson. This is the south and here one has to earn his or her political stripes by doing the hard yards, by winning over the students.

Of course not everything was hunky-dory. There were occasional moments when temperatures flared and there were bouts of violence between students from opposing political formations. But no matter what, the students tried their best to sort their differences out by themselves and whenever things got out of hand, the general public and the local paper — again much involved in the day to day affairs of the school unlike their northern counterparts who preferred pursuits that are more bovine in nature — stepped in to maintain peace. And the students obliged almost always, because, irrespective of their political differences one thing bound them together: their unshakable pride in their school.

It is into this mix that the new headmaster and his stepson waded in.

The stepson tried running for the students’ union polls and came a cropper. The headmaster’s PR gimmicks that worked oh-so-beautifully in the northern schools failed to make a dent down here. In fact, the new headmaster got laughed out of the room when he tried to make smart-ass quips about us. Boy, his butt must be still burning, from the treatment he got from the students over that little fiasco called #SomaliaGate.

During an all-night binge fuelled by the finest gaumutra, the stepson was given this sterling advice by daddy’s real kids from up north:

“Stir up trouble, escalate violence to the point where it becomes justifiable to bring the school under northern administration. We will send down a few journalists on our payroll to prep the ground for this story. We have to shut this school down before others take after them.”

While the stepson dutifully woofed, wagged his tail and trotted back down south to set in motion this plan, daddy’s real kids sniggered, slapped each others’ backs and raised another toast with the finest 18-year old gaumutra from the north. Even they were surprised at the ease with which the stepson could be turned against his own southern schoolmates.

But this is, after all, still the south.

The stepson’s grand designs were seen through by most of the students and they did what they normally do, in their inimitable style:

Epilogue

Totally unrelated to any of these events that went down in my high-school, #NammudeKeralam is facing an unprecedented threat.

The government as well as the legislative opposition formed by OUR elected representatives — men and women who have done the hard yards in Kerala’s political landscape, people who ran for public office and earned our mandate the hard way, MLAs and a cabinet of ministers who deserve their full 5-year term to succeed or fail in delivering their manifesto — are at risk of being dismissed, merely to satisfy the ego of the sangh parivar’s North Indian fanbase who cannot stomach our non-conformity, our uniqueness, our diversity and above all our attitude when faced with their bullying:

All Malayalis must stand together in this moment of crisis and resist all attempts to subvert our democracy and our way of life. All of us who were born, raised or have lived under the shade of the benevolent tree called #NammudeKeralam — our own diverse corner of India — must rise from our slumber and remind the North Indian sanghis that they have only managed to send down Mahabali’s body to the underworld.

Mahabali’s spirit lives on. In me, in you, in all of us. #NammudeKeralam is our inheritance from him and it is our duty to nourish and protect it.